Visual or audible indication of grade changes

(Joann Plamondon) #1

For those of us who are not using smart trainers, it would be nice to have a visual clue such as a visual alert on the screen or a sound to indicate that we are about to go up a hill and to increase the resistance. I just had my first ride today and as I worked harder and harder, I found myself forgetting to check the grade on the terrain map

(Duane Gran [Vision]) #2

My preference is for visual cues since people may listen to music while training. My suggestions on this:

  1. Color code the gradient indicator. Green is level (-1% to +1%) and then use yellow, orange and finally red for indicating gradient increases. Maybe blue for the declines but those seem less vital.

  2. Use a similar color marker along the side of the road. In this way if I’m approaching the incline and I see it color changing from yellow to red (maybe going 3% to 10%) I know I need to anticipate with gearing or power.

I think this will become more important in a future time when there are more terrains available for riding. It is pretty easy to get familiar with the terrain of a 5k loop but in my experience no virtual cycling program has really nailed the gradient expectation/visualization problem well. You sort of train your eye to see the change visually but it is really hard to project the appearance of an incline onto a 2D screen. We can see this in photos as well so it isn’t a problem specific to Zwift. The best solution in my mind is augmenting the view with color coded indicators.

(Aaron Deutsch - BMTR) #3

+1 color coding for gradient changes

(Clint Westhoff) #4

Just curious about this - what is the benefit of color coding over having a big percent gradient number inside a graphical representation of the grade in the upper right hand corner?

I’m not saying it is a bad idea, but personally I like keeping the color scheme consistent and don’t see an added benefit to having something turn yellow versus having a pretty big 2.0% number that I can see just as easily. May be I’m just a numbers person but I can process 8.0% easier than I can process “red equals 6.0% to 8.0%”.

(Duane Gran [Vision]) #5

To elaborate a little in response to Cliff’s question…

It is just a hunch of mine, but I’ve used and observed various virtual terrain programs and the near-uniform response of people is that they have a hard time anticipating changes in gradient. The two most common ways to resolve this is by showing a gradient percent value and showing a profile view.

Those two should be enough provided you are looking at them. If you have a smart trainer (Kickr, CT, etc) you feel it in your legs but an abrupt change can feel really odd.

The color idea is to manage the amount of visual information on screen. I can visually digest a color change with my peripheral vision pretty easily while maintaining primary view of the road & riders. Having the colors consistent is just a matter of good interface design. If a color means something and the meaning exists in two places, be consistent. That is my thinking anyhow but I could be dead wrong about its utility. It seems like an easy enough thing for Zwift to try out if they feel inclined.

(Duane Gran [Vision]) #6

Oh, and I should add. I meant to clarify that I would keep the percent display on screen but I would suggest using color in addition to the text. So it would display a green 1%, yellow 3%, orange 6% and red 9% for example.

(Joann Plamondon) #7

I like Duane’s suggestion, and I agree, that the color should be in addition to the percent display on the screen.

(Aaron Deutsch - BMTR) #8

For those with “dumb” trainers there is far too much cognitive overhead to be constantly translating changing digits to gears for resistance. Much more to translate a smooth transition of color to gears.

milliseconds count for a lot with this kind of interface.

(Shawn Gray [X]) #9


Totally agree on a color system  relative to grade, even on some smart trainers we dont have the freewheel effect so its hard to know when to go easy sometimes (downhill). Some people may think its an advantage to be able to pedal hard downhill but for a 1 hour race you need those breaks to stabilise your HR! If it were displayed on the mobile app with an optional audio alert even better.